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Senator: In private meeting, Obama seemed strongly committed to carbon pricing

In a private meeting at the White House with a bipartisan group of Senators today, President Obama strongly underscored his desire to include carbon pricing as part of the final package, Dem Senator Jeff Merkley just told me in an interview.

The news could cheer environmentalists who had come to worry that measures to reduce carbon emissions were shaping up as the public option of the environmental debate. Enviros view curbing carbon emissions as essential to real energy reform, but many think the White House and Dem leaders will decide against including such a provision at the last minute, since it's unclear whether there are 60 Senators who will support it.

But Obama, Merkley says, voiced strong support for it to Senators.

"He didn't lay out a recipe, but he made it clear that a price on carbon is a very powerful instrument," Merkley, a leading "green" voice inside the Senate, told me. "He said it's a very important tool and one we should thoroughly explore."

"He made a point of raising carbon pricing a number of times," Merkley continued. "I dont think he would have done so if that wasn't very important to him."

That squares with the statement the White House just put out. "The President told the Senators that he still believes the best way for us to transition to a clean energy economy is with a bill that makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America's businesses by putting a price on pollution," the statement says.

Anyone who's been through the health care debate may view such statements with a dose of skepticism. But for now, when it comes to carbon, Obama is talking a good game.

By Greg Sargent  |  June 29, 2010; 2:21 PM ET
Categories:  Climate change , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Comments

Hope is a brand. We can't have any.

Posted by: Papagnello | June 29, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Just don't let this prez use "fight" in the next campaign, because that's ours.

Posted by: Papagnello | June 29, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

He will never get a carbon tax through the Senate so better to take what he can get. What we really need is a change to the Senate rules where the filibuster is eliminated or put under control. Nothing in the constitution calls for 60 votes to pass normal legislation.

Posted by: soapm | June 29, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Obama will NEVER change the filibuster rules. It's his MO: cool without fighting.

Posted by: Papagnello | June 29, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"Obama will NEVER change the filibuster rules. It's his MO: cool without fighting."

Dear clueless,

The President can't change the filibuster rules.

Thanks for illuminating your deep understanding of the Senate.

Posted by: CTVoter | June 29, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for this Greg. Heartening...

Papagnello, get real or go troll somewhere else with that garbage.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 29, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

@soapm

"He will never get a carbon tax through the Senate so better to take what he can get."

That's some pretty terrible negotitation tactics right there. You start with a Carbon Tax, then you deal. If they want you to remove the carbon tax, you ask what you get in return.

It's this pre-emptive concessions bullsh*t that led to Health Care Reform being so much more watered down than it could have been.

They need to stake a claim, and argue for it. Try to convince the public. Democrats never try to convince people - it's pathetic.

I was watching some Dem on Maddow, talking about some terrible position that the GOP had taken. I kept hearing "I think the public will realize this..." and "I believe folks will think this..." and "I imagine people will see through this..."

That's not messaging, that's not going to convince anyone of anything. They need to figure that out, and start making an actual arguement.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | June 29, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

The president leads the Dems.

Go vote for Joe again CT.

Posted by: Papagnello | June 29, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Ethan,

You want time for niceties? OK. Then, you'll never get what you want from DC.

Posted by: Papagnello | June 29, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Papagnello,

You're embarassing yourself. Just stop, ok?

Posted by: CTVoter | June 29, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

"That's not messaging, that's not going to convince anyone of anything"

Al Franken gets this. Wonder why so many other Dems don't. The Republicans soundbites fit on a bumpersticker. Dems need a billboard for theirs. Is it any wonder they perpetually lose the battle?

Posted by: CTVoter | June 29, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Anyone have any input on the Cantwell/Collins "Clear Act" and why that's not the way to go?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/17/AR2010061704564.html

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 29, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"You want time for niceties? OK. Then, you'll never get what you want from DC."

I've already gotten what I wanted from D.C. The President I wanted. Majority control of both houses like I wanted.

But I'll NEVER get what I want from Firedoglake, the teabaggers and the pathetic whiners on both sides of the aisle who insist on fighting to the death over who can weaken this country most.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 29, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Carbon pricing isn't just a badly needed pro-environment move, it's very healthy economics. Carbon has a price already; we just aren't paying it upfront.

Obama gets it. Too bad most Democrats don't.

Posted by: texassideoats | June 29, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

@CTVoter

"Is it any wonder they perpetually lose the battle?"

Seriously.

What they say when the GOP filibusters extention of unemployement benefits in the worst economic downturn since the the Great Depression...

"I think the public will see that the GOP is doing all they can to obstruct our ability to get help to the unemployed."

Seriously? WTF is that? It's not an arguement. It's not an attack. It's a passive-agressive statement without the "agressive". It's weak and evasive. It's an accusation without actually making an accusation.

I think it's due to the fact that the press allows the GOP to make all sorts of absurd accusations and never fact-checks or questions...but when a Dem does it, the press hammers them for even making the accusation, instead of ever looking at the substance of the attack.

But Dems need to change it. They need to stop this weak-kneed too-cute-by-half tactic to messaging. They are on the right side of history a vast majority of the time...but they need to actually make the arguement, if they expect to change minds.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | June 29, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

THE REPUBLICAN SOUTH = FAT AND SICK

* The number of states where adult obesity rates exceed 30 percent doubled in the past year, from four to eight -- Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.

* Ten of the 11 states with the highest rates of diabetes are in the South, as are the 10 states with the highest rates of hypertension.

http://healthyamericans.org/reports/obesity2010/

Go check out the map at the above link.

Then compare it to this (map of 2008 presidential election results):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cartogram-2008_Electoral_Vote.png

The cluster of the 8 fattest states IDENTICALLY matches the GOP base.

Anybody willing to try this?

Look at both maps and tell me what you see.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 29, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

@TheBBQ...

WRT the press, or media, Republicans get more favorable coverage--the Times wrote that the Dems "failed" to pass the unemployment extensions. The word filibuster was never used. At least NPR described as Republicans "blocking" legislation. And the report by Pew about attitudes towards healthcare show that the media used more of the phrases of the opponents than proponens when describing the legislation ("death panels" is so snappy). But hells bells, this is hardly a new situation. "Death tax" happened how many years ago? I don't understand why they continually seem to drop the ball on this issue and I fear they're going to pay a steep price in November as a result.

Posted by: CTVoter | June 29, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan,

Bet that cluster also matches the states receiving the greatest amount of federal money too.

And the healthies, wealthiest, stablest portions of the map probably match states going for Obama.

Posted by: CTVoter | June 29, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

All, DailyKos's lawyer explains the lawsuit against Research 2000:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/06/lawyer_for_dailykos_details_la.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 29, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

They do CT. And in general this is not "new" info, well, not to me. But the latest research makes it so obvious that you'd think the NEWS media would draw the same comparisons. But no. It's not important.

Try looking at these maps:

http://healthyamericans.org/reports/obesity2010/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Election04-08shift.png

The second one is which way the electorate is trending. The areas that are trending MORE Republican after Bush really do identically conform with these 8 states:

Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia

If you put the healthamericans.org window next to the wiki window and switch back and forth quickly, it's scary.

It is THESE PEOPLE -- fat, sick, and mentally ill -- who are demanding "their" country back.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 29, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I guess I don't mind that the repubs message fits on a bumper sticker better than the dems. One of the reasons I supported Obama from the beginning was because I was sick and tired of bumper sticker messaging. Honest arguments can be a little more complicated, and good faith negotiations can be messy, but I believe they're worth it in the long run.

Besides, it's really hard to see how anyone else could have accomplished more, given the hand that was dealt. And now, he wants to go ahead and do immigration reform as well. I say, "GO, BO, GO!"

Posted by: converse | June 29, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"It is THESE PEOPLE -- fat, sick, and mentally ill -- who are demanding "their" country back."

Ethan, I think you're getting a little carried away here. People are consistently being bombarded with all sorts of propaganda and some are just more susceptible than others to voting against their best interest. A lot of these states have high rates of uninsured as well. I don't think it's fair to categorize either fat or sick as mentally ill.

We have a lot of problems to deal with but demonizing the general public should not be part of our plan. I have no particular fondness for any of these states but I'll assume they can't all be Republicans and even if they are so what. Let's just put our ideas out there and try to win on the merits of sound policy and undoing the mess Republicans made of the economy et al.

Posted by: lmsinca | June 29, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

lmsinca, I'm not demonizing the general public, I'm demonizing Southern white people who are empirically fat and stupid. I consider them mentally ill, even though it's not a textbook diagnosis, because they vote against their own self-interest and do so at the expense of the rest of the country.

Could there be a more selfish, destructive population on Earth?

Why not demonize these people?????

They're perfectly happy to demonize YOU, lmsinca.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 29, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, you're doing exactly what you hate in others. I'm sorry but this kind of thinking only gets you into trouble. So what if people demonize me for my beliefs and political and economic ideology, it says more about them than me. Anyway, I'm not trying to start an argument with you, maybe we just have a different view of who is causing the problems in our country. It's not your average American in the South or anywhere else for that matter, it's the guys who make the rules by catering to the corporate whims of the so-called free market. They will protect their interests above the interests of all the rest of us, no matter if we're fat, thin, smart, stupid, Republican or Democrat. They have politicians dancing in the palms of their hands and the media plays right along. It's an uphill battle that can't be won by alienating our neighbors.

Posted by: lmsinca | June 29, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

lmsinca, the rational side of me agrees with you entirely. Substantively, of course you're right.

But this is NOT about who is right and who is wrong. This is NOT about who is the most rational. This is STRICTLY about who wants to win more than the other side.

And right now -- despite our policies and despite the facts and despite the rational nature of our arguments and despite the overwhelmingly positive/historic Obama Presidency -- WE ARE LOSING THE DEBATE.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 29, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

@converse:

"Honest arguments can be a little more complicated, and good faith negotiations can be messy, but I believe they're worth it in the long run.
"

I agree. However, we have a short run on our hands right now, and there won't be honest arguments OR good faith negotiations if Republicans retake the House or the Senate. There will be, instead, endless investigations into the Sestak situation, subpoenas of the President and his staff, investigations into his birth certificate, etc.

Posted by: CTVoter | June 29, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

"there won't be honest arguments OR good faith negotiations if Republicans retake the House or the Senate"

I totally agree. This is critically important.

This is a SPRINT to November, not a MARATHON.

We should be forcefully ON THE ATTACK and we CANNOT *CANNOT* "BE NICE" anymore.

Take the mf-ing gloves OFF Dems.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 29, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I'll let you guys carry on. I'll do my thing the only way I know how, and you do yours. The people we need to vilify for their lack of ideas, lies, and obstruction are the leaders, not the so-called "fat, sick and mentally ill" folks in the South. They're the ones who vote and we need to try to persuade them instead, that's all I'm saying.

Posted by: lmsinca | June 29, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

"They're the ones who vote and we need to try to persuade them instead, that's all I'm saying. "

My last point:

But these Republicans in the South -- and I did drop the "mentally ill" part -- are voting the same people into office term after term. How many times can one vilify the ideas of someone who compares 2010 to 1776 and expect a different outcome? It's not about John Boehner, it's about the electorate that elects people like him. We need to change their views of themselves. We need to impress upon them that being stupid and obese is a BAD thing.

Granted I'm just pissed off right now, but I think there's something to this. It gets to what I was posting about before, that Dems need to come out in support of Mom and Apple Pie. Stop making everything so d@mn PC and political.

Start MAKING SENSE to normal, average Americans (of which I consider myself one) by talking about everyday issues, using everyday images in commercials and ads. And those who resist, bludgeon them MERCILESSLY with attack ads. Again, I'm done with being nice. We need to be MERCILESS and ON THE ATTACK if we want to win.

Otherwise it's basically going to be King Boehner and Judge/Jury/Executioner Darrell Issa starting Jan 2011. Are you ready for that? I'm sure as hell not.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 29, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

CT Voter said: "You're embarassing yourself. Just stop, ok?"

pot, meet kettle. Anyone from Joe LIEberman's state has no business telling anyone they are embarrassing themselves.

Posted by: RolphNadir | June 30, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

A price on carbon IS a very powerful instrument, but only if it's the right pricing system. A straightforward and transparent revenue-neutral carbon tax is the method the world's leading scientists and economists agree is best. It's time to insist that our Reps in Washington put good public policy above political expediency and take another look at a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

Posted by: SallyVCrockett | June 30, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

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